Last week I was invited to speak on a panel with Dave Meslin on civic engagement in Toronto. I thought it might be interesting to revisit the geography of turnout — how some parts of the city seem more included to vote than others, election after election. I had earlier looked at this in the context of the 2010 election. Using City of Toronto Elections data, I made ward-level maps of turnout for the 2003, 2006, and 2010 elections.
In these maps, pink means above-average turnout and blue means below-average turnout.
First, let’s look at the 2003 election in which David Miller beat John Tory and trounced former mayor Barbara Hall. We see that turnout was highest in central Etobicoke, North Toronto, Riverdale, and East York. Turnout was lowest in the fringes of Scarborough and Etobicoke, and a corridor stretching from downtown to the northwest.
Moving on to 2006, what do we see? A very similar pattern. A lot of people in Jane Pitfield’s home ward turned out to vote for her, but again, turnout was low in the extremities of North York and Scarborough and below-average in the same northwest corridor.
Fast forward to 2010 — the Ford-Smitherman election — and we see the same thing. Higher turnout in central Etobicoke, Rosedale, North Toronto, Riverdale, and East York; and lower turnout in the outer suburbs and the northwest corridor.
Put it all together, and what is the pattern? There are persistent zones of lower and higher turnout in the City.